Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The West As Demon

Outside In Quote Note (#269) quoting SSC:
I am pretty sure there was, at one point, such a thing as western civilization. I think it involved things like dancing around maypoles and copying Latin manuscripts. At some point Thor might have been involved. That civilization is dead. It summoned an alien entity from beyond the void which devoured its summoner and is proceeding to eat the rest of the world.
What did the West summon? Science and industry.
This is an easy distinction to miss, since demons often kill their summoners and wear their skin. But in this case, he’s become hopelessly confused without it.

...But “western medicine” is just medicine that works. It happens to be western because the West had a technological head start, and so discovered most of the medicine that works first. But there’s nothing culturally western about it; there’s nothing Christian or Greco-Roman about using penicillin to deal with a bacterial infection. Indeed, “western medicine” replaced the traditional medicine of Europe – Hippocrates’ four humors – before it started threatening the traditional medicines of China or India. So-called “western medicine” is an inhuman perfect construct from beyond the void, summoned by Westerners, which ate traditional Western medicine first and is now proceeding to eat the rest of the world.
He cites Coca-Cola and sushi as other examples.

Where SSC goes wrong is mixing Truth for Power. A thought experiment to illustrate: imagine Cathedralites can be safely and humanely captured like Pokemon and moved to a Siberian prison colony.

What parts of universal Western culture do you think survive? What goes away? Anything you believe to be universal or Truth, will bubble back to the surface. Anything that is false, and spread/supported by Cathedral power, would quickly vanish.

I suspect Coca-Cola would survive, but it's position is partially the result of power. Other countries invented sugary drinks like Coca-Cola, but they didn't have a vast network of American military bases as ports of entry into foreign markets. Had Germany or Russia won WWII or the Cold War, Americans would be drinking some other supposedly universal drink. How did sushi spread globally? Pizza? Hamburgers? I don't know for sure, but I would not be surprised to find the influence of American power. If things become popular because Americans popularize them, are Americans universally popular (like puppies), or are they universalists finding the universal truths, or are did they mostly benefit from raw power, the ability to amplify the American cultural signal and drown out competition?

America in this example is a bit like Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart decides to sell your product, it becomes a hit with sales in the millions. If Wal-Mart doesn't sell your product, it's not so easy. Wal-Mart must choose a product that sells well, otherwise it loses money, so it is always dropping bad sellers for good sellers. Yet if there are two potentially good products, and Wal-Mart only has space for one, a choice is made. Not a universal one.

SSC's main point is that in order to have this power, you have to become Wal-Mart, you end up claiming to have some universal culture because of your success, but really you are enslaved to a logistics algorithm.

Yet the "universal" values SSC mentions, such as gender norms, are slowly eroding economic and military efficiency.

P.S. Islam is a universal religion and it seems to be expanding thanks to Western technology. I expect Islam is less than 10 years away from no longer requiring suicide bombers thanks to self-driving car bombs and C4-laded drones. Is "Western" culture the boot disk for the global Caliphate? If the West is dead and replaced by a summoned demon, then this is entirely plausible and even likely if you believe Muhammed was talking to a jinn.

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